LinkedIn is the go-to social media platform for companies that cater to professionals and the professionally minded. If you want to get people in a specific industry, you don’t go to Twitter or Facebook; you hit LinkedIn. It’s gone from looking like a flavour-of-the-month platform to a legitimate social media network. And just like any other social media network, it has a set of rules and practices you need to follow if you want to perform well. Here are 10 such rules:
1. Going for the Hard Sell
Hard sells are rarely a good call in most situations, and LinkedIn is no exception. You need to keep things light and breezy, whether it’s in status updates or group posts. Self-promotion is accepted, even expected, on LinkedIn, but you can’t push too hard, or people will tune you out.
Instead of leaping into the LinkedIn pool with your self-promotion boots on, you should start with your friendship shoes. Start building relationships. Help people out by giving them something educational or entertaining. Earn their trust first. If you do so, they’ll be more willing to listen to you, and you won’t need to push so hard.
2. Not Completing Your Profile
When people notice you on LinkedIn, the first thing they’ll do is take a look at your profile. They will want to know what your professional qualifications are, your experiences. They’re doing that to get to know you better, and if your profile is incomplete, they won’t get the full picture.
While that’s OK on Facebook, it’s not OK on LinkedIn. It is a professionally-oriented site, and any missing information hurts people’s first impressions of you. Make it a good one by making sure they can see everything relevant to you and your business.
3. Not Having a Company Page
Your personal brand is a critical part of your company’s success, especially if you’re running a small business or startup. However, no matter how important it is, it’s still a separate brand from the company’s. Your company’s brand must also have its own LinkedIn page and profile.
Encourage people to follow your page to get the latest updates on your company. Not only will this boost its visibility, but it will also naturally sort the messages you’ll receive. Business-related ones will go straight to the page, and more personal ones will head straight for your inbox.
4. Going the Lone Wolf Route
To make headway in LinkedIn, you have to join LinkedIn groups. You’re not just there to strictly promote your products; you’re there to network with other professionals and nurture relationships with people who could end up as your employees, investors, or even partners. Fortunately, finding relevant groups is easy. Just look for anything that’s relevant to your industry and niche.
5. Focusing Entirely on Your Content
Whether it is in group feeds or your status updates, you should make sure that you’re not just talking about your content. There’s nothing wrong with it inherently, but it shouldn’t be the only thing you’re sharing or talking about. In fact, the majority of stuff you share or discuss shouldn’t come from you. If you need a ratio, consider the 80/20 rule: 4 out of every 5 posts should be about relevant topics or participation in other conversations or discussions; 1 out of every 5 can be about you and your company.
6. Using It as An Emotional Outlet
No one can overstate that Facebook and Twitter are not like LinkedIn at a fundamental level. While the occasional personal post on your Facebook feed is fine (even encouraged, so it humanises you), the same does not apply to posts on LinkedIn. Remember, it’s a professional environment, and you should treat as such.
Don’t use it to vent about personal issues, or to raise political problems. There are places for that, and it’s not on LinkedIn. Keep things professional, and you’ll stay on your followers’ good side.
7. Cold Contacting People with Generic Messages
There’s a place in LinkedIn for cold calling, which is great because you won’t always know the right person to set you up for an introduction. However, it’s not something you can shotgun. You need to approach them correctly, and that means crafting a specific message for every recipient.
While that sounds like a chore, it isn’t if done properly. After all, you’re contacting these people for a specific reason. Tell them what that reason is, whether it’s because you think your product would be interesting to them or because you’re interested in their skill set, and explain it. That is often enough to get at least people to give you the time of day.
8. Not Setting Your Customised LinkedIn URL
There are reasons why website names are valuable and why entire industries are built on getting the right URL, and it’s branding and search engine optimisation. You want people to remember both your and the company’s name, and having the correct URL accomplishes that and so much more. LinkedIn has a similar feature, one that you should utilise if you want to gain traction.
9. Not Having a Content Marketing Strategy
Like all other social media platforms, quality content matters on LinkedIn. Random posts and functionally meaningless updates have no place in a professionally-oriented site. You need a carefully planned and designed content marketing and curation plan.
Don’t talk about the latest problem your house’s plumbing has dumped on you. Share articles relevant to your industry. Create and post videos detailing manufacturing practices, or ones discussing the latest developments. Keep it professional, and the LinkedIn crowd will respond favourably.
10. Choosing to Stay Away from LinkedIn
LinkedIn has a tremendous amount of value for any company, whether or not your target market hangs out there. Through LinkedIn, you can perform cursory background checks on potential clients, investors, and employees. You can also use it to promote your company to those same kinds of people. Remember, while the customer gives you money, you’ll still need partners, connections, investors, and employees that will help the company run.
Facebook might be the biggest, and Twitter the most concise, but LinkedIn is the most professional social networking site in the world. Whether you’re looking for your target market or a new employee, LinkedIn can give you what you need. Not approaching it properly doesn’t do your company any favours. Treat it with respect and care, and it will reward you.